Before I learned a thing about Pass Labs' new .8 Series of amplifiers, which is designed as the new bridge between the company's current .5 and XS Series, Pass's Kent English welcomed me to listen to the Impex Records LP transfer of an RCA Red Seal 1958 mono recording of Beethoven's Violin Sonata No.8 with Jascha Heifetz and Emanuel Bey. (Only 2000 LPs were pressed, and this was number 1244.) Wow! The clarity and believability of the presentation were phenomenal. Bey's piano was recorded far too distant, but the layered complexity of the sound of Heifetz's violin was mesmerizing. All that audiophile talk about hearing the sound of the rosin on the bow had never before seemed as real as when I auditioned this recording. And the presentation was musical to boot!
Having just heard a Bay Area Audiophile Society (BAAS) demo of the PS Audio Perfect Wave Transport ($2999), Perfect Wave DAC ($2999), and Power Plant Premier ($2199), all hosted by the ever-engaging Paul McGowan, I was very eager to hear PS Audio's front end powered by an early prototype of PS Audio's forthcoming class-D Perfect Wave amplifier. Using Focus Audio Master 2.5 speakers ($20,000/pair), two MartinLogan Descent subs, and a complement of Perfect Wave AC12 power cables ($699/meter) and older PS Audio speaker cables not currently on the market, the system delivered the kind of clean, impressively full range sound that has made PS Audio a legend in the industry.
When I entered the room with equipment from PBN Audio, EM from Japan, and Mark Johansen's ZenSati cabling, I encountered PBN President Peter Noerbaek playing an LP of one of the Bach solo cello suites. This he followed with cellist Aage Kvalbein's audiophile-quality CD of the Theme from Charlie Chaplin's Limelight, available on the KKV.no label's Mirakler far den nye Verdem (Miracles from the New World). (Click here and here for more information.] The sound was very detailed, clear, and warm, with great dynamics. New was PBN Audio's fully balanced, all-FET EB-SA2 power amplifier ($34,995), which outputs 650Wpc into 8 ohms and 1200Wpc into 4. "It's way overbuilt, as is everything we do," said Noerbaek of his 165 lb baby.
Beautiful, airy, and colorful sound distinguished the forthcoming Peachtree Nova 220 SE ($1999), an all-in-one class-D baby that produces 220Wpc into 8 ohms and 440Wpc into 4 ohms. Cribbing from our sister site, Audiostream.comthe pre-show press release cannot be found in my mailboxI see that it accepts up to 24/192 data through its USB and coaxial S/PDIF inputs. Its new discrete class-A preamplifier stage offers improved micro-detail over old Peachtree models, and its S/N ratio has improved 12 dB over the Nova 125 (Stereophile's 2009 Budget Product of the Year). Paired with Martin Logan Summit X loudspeakers ($14,000/pair), this baby acquitted itself with honors on Reference Recordings' version of Tchaikovsky's Hopak from Mazeppa.
Given the lateness of the hour, I could only snap a photo of the Italian Pearl Evolution Victor Ballerina 401/8 DPG loudspeaker ($14,000/pair) and grab a brochure. Slated for U.S. distribution, the three-way D'Appolito design with 89dB "sensibility"why do so many overseas companies dispense with professionals when they translate their literature into English?boasts a bass box that is equipped with a "Dynamic Pressure Gide (D.P.G) . . . a substantial and radical innovation in loudspeakers [sic] design. The D.P.G. differs from the usual internal bracingsthat only aim at reducing box vibrationsbecause it is intended to orientate a great part of air flow toward the CremonesiVenturi port, purportedly reducing air pressure on the box walls."
Manufactured in Sparks, NV by two families who "all have an insanity for music" and sold direct, two-year old Perla Audio's complete system was set up for extreme nearfield listening. Having entered to the assurance, "You're gonna love this," I made my way to the front, favored-by-Perla seat to hear the Perla Signature 50 integrated amplifier ($9000), PRS-2B ($8800/presumably for the pair) and PRS-2 ($7800/pair?) loudspeakers on $2250/pair stands, and Perla SB-400 subs.
Enjoying classical music performed on original instruments has just gotten easier. After 25 years of issuing recordings on LP and CD, the invigorating Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra has decided instead to make recordings of its live performances available for download.
On March 24, Universal Classics labels Decca and Deutsche Grammophon announced a pioneering global initiative to release live recordings of recent performances by the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonics for download on iTunes. By the end of the year, four major European orchestras are expected to follow suit, releasing live concerts on the web on the DG Concerts or Decca Concerts virtual labels.
Distributor Axiss Audio was showing the new Piega Coax 711 loudspeaker ($25,000/pair). Everything in the speakerincluding its coaxial ribbon tweeter/midrange, bass drivers, and all-aluminum enclosureis designed and manufactured by the Swiss company.
Surprise, surprise, at least for me. Pipeline, RadioShack's high-end cabling line, is manufactured by no less an entity than AudioQuest. Bill Boyer, Sr. VP (left) and Milton Perez, National Sales Manager (right), gave an idea of the price range when they explained that a 4 foot HDMI cable retails for $49.